Supervising Projects

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The Canterbury Westland Schools’ Science and Technology Fair is a great opportunity for you to become involved in what will be a rewarding exercise for both yourself and your students.

 

The first rule is not to force students into entering the Fair. Only some will be sufficiently interested and motivated to take part. The motivation must come from them, as to do well they will need to commit time to planning and carrying out their project. This should not put them off though, as entrants generally report a high level of satisfaction from having taken part. You should not see your job as mentor as a bind, as it is our experience that students become highly motivated and enthusiastic about their work. Your role is merely to offer direction and assistance as needed.

Choosing a project may be the hardest part of the whole exercise. We cannot easily give advice on how to find good projects to do. Often, very simple ideas can be made into excellent projects. Finding out about past winners at the Regional and National Science and Technology Fairs can often be of real assistance. This information is available from the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Web pages and also from the Canterbury-Westland School’s Science and Technology Fair organising committee. You should certainly never feel that all the good science and technology in the world has already been done!

It is important that you and the student do not think that good science and technology is found only in research institutions and universities. Science and technology are used in many places in society, from the supermarket to the skateboard park. These places may contain outstanding ideas for a project, and possibly expert assistance as well.

The level of assistance you offer is entirely up to you. We do not dissuade direct help, but ask that any assistance given is adequately acknowledged in the project. Most importantly the exhibitor(s) must ‘own’ or appreciate the significance of the help they have received. Do not let the student think they can hide this input from judges. It is easy to see another person’s input and it does not do the student any favours. If judges become aware of unacknowledged input, they will disregard the exhibit.